A previous clinical trial used a cancer vaccine to treat prostate cancer. The results showed promise treating the cancer with minimal serious side effects. Based on those results, researchers will test the vaccine for pleural mesothelioma.
The UV1 cancer vaccine targets cells that produce large amounts of telomerase. This includes prostate and mesothelioma cancer cells. Pleural mesothelioma patients will receive multiple vaccinations and immunotherapy treatment.
What Is the Cancer Vaccine?
This vaccine is a UV1 vaccination. It targets cells producing large amounts of telomerase. Although prostate cancer and mesothelioma are very different, they both have this characteristic.
The UV1 vaccine contains small fragments of telomerase. This teaches the body’s immune system which protein to identify and attack. In this case, the protein is telomerase.
What Is Telomerase?
DNA damage can lead to cell death. Telomerase is a protein that helps cells fix certain types of DNA damage. Therefore, telomerase can help cancer cells survive.
All cells have the blueprints required to make telomerase. However, not all cells use these blueprints to produce the protein at the same capacity. Many malignant cells make a noticeably large amount of telomerase. Identifying cells with high telomerase production can help differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells.
Promising UV1 Vaccine Study Results
Researchers have tested the UV1 vaccine on prostate cancer patients. The study consisted of 22 men who received 7 – 13 vaccinations. Study results concluded:
- 18 patients had an immune response
- 13 patients had a decline in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) after receiving at least 10 vaccinations
- 10 patients received MRI results with no evidence of prostate cancer cells
- 17 patients achieved clinically stable disease by the time the study concluded
- A low incidence of serious side effects
Doctors collected results during a follow-up nine months after the first vaccination. Later follow-ups could show differences in this data.
UV1 Vaccine Side Effects
Side effects emerging from the prostate cancer study included:
- Itching at the injection site
- Frequent urination in the daytime
- General itchiness
- Hot flash
Two patients experienced anaphylactic shock. One patient experienced dangerously low platelet levels. These side effects were not seen in the majority of patients.
All cancer treatments have potential side effects. Patients should discuss any treatment concerns with their care team. Palliative treatments are often available to help manage patient discomfort.
Who Is Eligible for the Mesothelioma UV1 Cancer Vaccine Trial?
The upcoming clinical trial* will focus on 118 mesothelioma patients with:
- An official pleural mesothelioma diagnosis
- Adequate organ function
- No history of immune-checkpoint-inhibitor treatment
- No eligibility for curative surgery
*The ClinicalTrials.gov Study Record Detail provides more information about the study.
In addition to the vaccination, patients will also undergo immunotherapy treatment. This will involve two immunotherapy drugs: Yervoy®️ (ipilimumab) and Opdivo®️ (nivolumab).
To determine the effectiveness of the treatment, doctors will divide patients into two groups:
- Patients will undergo immunotherapy treatment only.
- Patients will undergo immunotherapy and receive the vaccination.
What Results Are Researchers Hoping For?
Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, researchers continue to look for treatments to improve survival. The cancer vaccine could help:
- Shrink tumors
- Stop tumor growth
- Eradicate tumors altogether
All of these outcomes have the potential to improve patient survival.